Chelsea will aim to continue building on their recent wins when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Road on Thursday.

The elongated Gameweek 28 of the 2021/22 Premier League season continues on Thursday, with clubs catching up on lost time with their midweek excursions. Chelsea will be one of the teams in action on the day, as they lock horns with Norwich City at Carrow Road.

2021/22 has been a familiar tale for Norwich City, whose pendulation between Premier League and the EFL Championship looks set to continue. After securing automatic promotion to the top-flight last season, the Canaries have been mired in the relegation battle throughout this term. They are currently rooted to the bottom of the table, with Everton five points clear in the 17th spot.

As for Chelsea, the west Londoners’ latest Premier League campaign has once again promised much but failed to deliver. The Blues were looking like title contenders in the first half of the season, only for inconsistency to set in with every passing month.

As a result, Manchester City and Liverpool have pulled away, leaving Thomas Tuchel’s men alone at third, with fourth-placed Arsenal five points behind them. But their recent Premier League form has been solid, with Chelsea winning their last three games.

The reverse fixture was a goal fest for Chelsea, who cruised to a 7-0 win over Norwich City back in October, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Norwich City

Dean Smith has been handed a twin boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Thursday, the Norwich City boss will only be bereft of the services of two first-team players due to fitness issues.

Andrew Omobamidele (back) and Adam Idah (knee) remain on the sidelines due to their respective injuries. In addition, Billy Gilmour will also miss out against parent club Chelsea due to the terms of his loan deal.

As for the good news, Ozan Kabak (shoulder) and Lukas Rupp (knock) should be fit and available to take on Chelsea on Thursday. But while Rupp should return to the starting eleven straight away, Smith will likely ease Kabak back to the thick of the action, meaning the Turk can expect an appearance off the bench at most this midweek.

In Kabak’s continued absence, Christoph Zimmermann will likely pair up with Grant Hanley at the heart of the Norwich defence. Other changes are also expected in the rest of the starting eleven, with Max Aarons replacing Sam Byram. But Brandon Williams will retain his spot on the left flank, while Tim Krul will continue to feature between the sticks against Chelsea.

Up ahead in midfield, Gilmour’s void will be filled by the returning Rupp, while Pierre Lees-Melou should replace Mathias Normann. Smith utilised the 4-2-3-1 setup instead of the 4-3-3 last time out against Brentford. And despite being hammered by the Bees, the Norwich manager should keep faith in the new system, leaving the onus on the two central midfielders to keep things tight in the middle of the park.

Kieran Dowell could come in for the struggling Kenny McLean to reprise the no. 10 role, while Milot Rashica will make way for Jonathan Rowe on the left-wing berth. Josh Sargent should keep hold of his spot on the opposite flank, while Teemu Pukki will spearhead the Norwich attack against Chelsea.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Zimmermann, Williams; Lees-Melou, Rupp; Sargent, Dowell, Rowe; Pukki

Chelsea

Unlike his counterpart in the Norwich City dugout, Thomas Tuchel has greeted a mixed bag of updates on the team news front ahead of the trip to Carrow Road. The Chelsea boss will be without two first-team players on Thursday.

The bad news is that Reece James has suffered a leg injury that will keep him out for at least the game against Norwich. The English international has joined compatriot and wing-back partner Ben Chilwell on the sidelines. However, Chilwell has recently stepped on the grass for the first time since undergoing knee surgery.

But there is some good news, too, with Cesar Azpilicueta (knock), Marcos Alonso (COVID-19), and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) likely to be fit and available after overcoming their respective woes. The trio should be in contention to feature against Norwich on Thursday.

Hudson-Odoi should come in for the injured James in the right wing-back berth, with Azpilicueta likely to be preserved for the game on the weekend against Newcastle United. Saul Niguez might keep hold of his spot on the left flank after his impressive performance this past weekend versus Burnley.

Mateo Kovacic will likely return to the starting eleven in place of N’Golo Kante, who will be rested after his recent excursions. Jorginho will line up alongside Kovacic in the middle of the park, donning the captain’s armband for Chelsea while also being in charge of pulling the strings in the midfield.

As for the attacking unit, Christian Pulisic will fancy keeping hold of his spot after a bright display on the weekend. But Romelu Lukaku should get a chance to impress in Kai Havertz’s stead, with the German international poised to get a breather. Mason Mount, the hat-trick hero in the reverse fixture, will be the creator-in-chief for Chelsea against Norwich.

A few changes will be in the offing at the opposite end, with Andreas Christensen replacing Thiago Silva. But Trevoh Chalobah and Antonio Rudiger should retain their spots in the central defensive unit, with Edouard Mendy starting between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Saul; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku

Key Stats

  • Norwich City are winless in their last 13 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D2 L11) since a 3-0 home win in December 1994 under John Deehan. The Blues have won their last five Premier League games against Norwich, cruising to a 7-0 victory in the reverse fixture back in October.
  • There have been three occasions of Chelsea netting ten goals against an opponent in a single Premier League campaign – Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2003/04, Sunderland in 2009/10 and Aston Villa in 2012/13.
  • Norwich are without a win in their last eight matches against reigning European champions (D1 L7), losing the preview six in a row by an aggregate score of 21-2. Their last such win came at home against Aston Villa in October 1982 (1-0).
  • Chelsea have won their last three Premier League games by an aggregate score of 7-0. They have not won four in a row without conceding in the competition since December 2016 under Antonio Conte.
  • Mason Mount has been involved in 10 of Chelsea’s last 17 Premier League goals against newly-promoted sides (six goals, four assists). Indeed, since his first Premier League season in 2019/20, only Jamie Vardy (17), Mohamed Salah (16) and Son Heung-min (14) have more goal involvements against promoted teams than Mount (nine goals, four assists).

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

Embed from Getty Images

By now, it is clear that Romelu Lukaku has not had a happy homecoming at Chelsea. 2021/22 has instead ended up becoming a tumultuous season for the Belgian striker, who has lost his mojo after struggling to find his feet in Thomas Tuchel’s system.

Kai Havertz’s recent exploits have not helped his case, with Lukaku pushed down the pecking order as a result. If he can show glimpses of his brilliant talent, the 28-year-old can still hope to have a bright future at Chelsea. And there can be no better game for him to flourish than the one against Norwich City.

Prediction

Norwich City 0-3 Chelsea

A lot has changed since the reverse fixture nearly six months ago. Chelsea’s campaign has petered out, with the Blues becoming an afterthought in the Premier League title race. Norwich City’s relegation battle has become more enticing, with the bottom teams closely following each other.

But the Canaries are not the also-rans of the reverse fixture. However, as Chelsea showed against Burnley last weekend, they can be a dangerous side to contain if they get in their stride. The hosts should initially make life difficult for Thomas Tuchel’s men before they find their feet. And another strong second half showing should propel Chelsea to a crucial 3-0 win over Norwich.

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